Tell Us What You Thought 2, or We Can Haz Feedback?

I liveblogged like crazy from my perch over at the registration table, which, to my mind, is the best seat in the house at Rising Tide, but, then again, I'm biased, having worked said table with the super-capable Sophmom for the past three years. We were pleased this year to welcome the volunteer assistance of the just-as-super-capable Val McG and hope we haven't scared her off from the task. She seemed to hang in there just fine without panicking each time the wifi dropped us or registrants started to get a tad loud just outside the conference room door. She is a steely-eyed on-point lady and we were happy to have her.

Of course, with all the drama going on at the table by the entrance, my liveblogging wasn't as on point as it could have been...

...which is why I must also give props to our social media go-to guy and Tweeter Tube wrangler Loki for posting the RT V Twitter feed, which is still giving us some feedback from attendees and participants. It also filled in some mighty holes in my liveblogging from all y'all, so don't hesitate to scroll down at the link and read up.

Other bits of feedback were compiled at Sophmom's recap post on Rising Tide, but I'll re-list and list some more of those here:

Greg Peters' liveblogging is here, here, here, and here. Of the many money quotes from him is this one concerning a realization of his during the environmental panel:
I am reminded of one of the key differences between liberals and conservatives, Repubs and Dems — RIghties think that the right answer to anything is clear and easy, based on belief. Libs see complexity and are often immobilized by it. Trying to convince faith-based believers about something complex and far-reaching and hidden is oddly harder than convincing them that a ghost in the sky wants them to vote a certain way.
Other liveblogging comes from Dakinikat at The Confluence and from Machelle of Watching Treme, whose liveblog was also cross-posted at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's website.

Impressions from Cyganka are here.
Veracity Stew's look at Tim Ruppert's "Dam Safety" talk is here.
Alex Rawls' impressions are up on the OffBeat magazine's blog.
Mark LaFlaur of Levees Not War was an intrepid assistant to Rising Tide's efforts, as he has been from back in some of its earliest days. His liveblogging is here.
UPDATE: I missed a whole lot of liveblogging excellence from Robin Kemp. Her posts on RT are here, here, here, here, and here. It is like she was there...and she was.
Also, a post from James Reeves of Big American Night on Rising Tide.

Believe me, I know I'm missing some recaps. Fill me in in the comments below, complete with links, please, and add your feedback as an attendee to Varg's post.

Next year in New Orleans, y'all.

Tell us what you thought of RT5

RT5 has come and gone. Many, many thanks to all who attended and helped out. There has been a lot of praise coming our way and some constructive criticism also. But the most important comments / questions / critiques come from living breathing attendees of this year's conference and years past.

We also want to get more people on board for next year's planning committee. So contact the committee if you want to help plan next year's Conference.

Open comments thread below for attendees to tell us what you thought of this Rising Tide 5. Don't be bashful yall.


Rising Tide V: Mac McClelland's Keynote Speech (Audio)

Update by Leigh C., 8/30/2010: Varg's list of references accompanying Mac's speech at RT is a must-read. Go. Now.

Down in the Treme

Maitri introduces the panelists.

The show Treme was in the works before the storm hit. How different is it since the storm has come and gone?

Overmyer: Can't imagine the show without it. David Simon and Overmyer were planning a show that had nothing to do with cops.

Who's born in New Orleans? (Lolis and Davis raise their hands) For those of you who aren't, what attracted you to New Orleans?

Virgo: Immersed in the music as a young girl growing up in coastal Texas.
Walker: turned on by the Wild Tchoupitoulas music.
Overmyer: Also brought in by the music. played "Marie Laveau" over and over and over again.

Davis - You can't picture the lives of NOLA musicians without pot smoking and cursing, so its being on HBO works.

Lolis: One's experience of Carnival depends on who you're with. The show presented that very well.

Which New Orleans shows have you really hated?

Lolis: Orleans, with Larry Hagman
What's good? Frank's Place
Davis: Panic in the Streets was good.
Walker: Frank's Place, along with the Wild Tchoupitoulas, brought him into the New Orleans orbit. As for the bad ones, I wrote 1001 columns about K-Ville. Its sins are ultimately forgivable.
to Lolis and Davis: How does the process work, writing for Treme?

Lolis: we add the experience of having lived the facts that the creators and other writers have in their heads. How do you get the scene to reflect what really happened?

Eric: Part-time residency in NOLA puts him somewhere in-between the facts and the experiences. "In a way, it's a historical drama."

Walker: how do you get all the information together for your blog on Treme?
He came up with the idea to try to explain all the cultural references in the show.

Virgotex: Got That New Package! to Back of Town: Blogging Treme - what are the commonalities?

The political sensibilities were very similar. Even though The Wirehad nothing to do with Katrina, the same sorts of major issues were being dealt with

Fauborg Treme - its origins and how much has it informed Treme?

Started out as a poetry project, then Dawn Logsdon & Lolis got involved in the history. He brings his knowledge of that history to the show.

Treme - will the characters be developing?

Eric: 2nd season - Fall 2006 to spring 2007.
The Wire was a blessing and a curse - good success-wise, as it enabled them to make Treme. But the tone wasn't what most audiences all over the country were expecting.
Virgotex: Loves the "meditative" pace of the show. Touts the creativity of the work and the passage of time it deals with. Most removed from the events in the show and tends to appreciate the craft of the show more.

Politics! Politics!

Panelists introduced...all present except for Jeff Crouere. He's missing out.

Jason Berry of the American Zombie discusses his current postings on Cedric Richmond's slush funds shenanigans.

Clancy Dubos talking about the history of the slush funds. Related to the hotel-motel tax that more than covered the cost of the Superdome in the '70's - extra money had to go somewhere, so the legislature set up a system to allow individual legislators to get that extra money. Why didn't the LSED call bullshit? Because the lege set up the system and it has the potential to be abused.

Stephanie Grace goes further into the slush funds. MSM question, according to Grace: Is this a breakage of the rules or is it well within the (badly drawn up) rules?

Jacques Morial - There are always two sides to every story.

Jeff Crouere arrives in the middle of Morial's discussion.

Clancy: Smoking gun on the Richmond slush funds is the Rolex - where's the receipt for it? The rest is simply bad policy. Berrry: correction - the diamond bezel is one smoking gun, and the other is some $60,000 for renovations, and two 501(c)3s operating out of the same building, which is clearly against the rules.

Jeff Crouere: quick introduction. Congratulates Jason on his work. Hopes that the story will get more traction than it has in the MSM.

Primary elections takes -
Crouere: Joseph Cao will win reelection. He might face a damaged Cedric Richmond in the general election.
Clancy: Thinks Cao also has a good chance due to his uniqueness among Republicans - "one of the more sincere politicians on the political landscape today." But he's in a district built to elect black candidates. Once there is an increased black turnout, how will Cao fare?
Berry: A Democratic runoff would be good. Would have liked to see Karen Carter-Peterson run. Berry is a registered Democrat, and the GOP is using his information, which wasn't necessarily his intention - but he thinks Cao will pull it out.
Morial: Cao will pay for voting against health care. Do you want the congressman to take his cue from the voters or from the GOP and the archbishop?
Grace: Cao was in favor of many of the more controversial parts of the health care bill, and stood up for it initially. He voted against it for personal reasons and feels the need to explain that, and people may understand, but they don't care. Embraces earmarks in a good way. People like him, but they don't necessarily want to vote for him. Could be a heavily partisan election in terms of changing balance of power in House.
Morial: The rumors concerning abortion in health care are bullshit.
Crouere: Stood up to BP, which could play well in the election. Can conserve his energies for the general election because no one challenged him from the GOP.

Melancon: Does he have a chance?

Grace: Vitter - chosen to run against Obama, not Melancon directly.
Morial: Vitter wouldn't have a chance if the Zombie were on the story. Vitter aide who held his girlfriend hostage was supported by Vitter, and the man himself is a whoremonger and a criminal.
Clancy on the trial that never happened - Vitter could have been charged under RICO as part of the ongoing criminal investigation against the D.C. madam. The hanging of the D.C. madam, statistically speaking, is suspicious.
Berry: History of car bombings against people who oppose Vitter. He'll win the election, however, because melancon is running a shitty campaign.
Clancy: People who have voted for Vitter don't care about the facts behind his philanderings and his criminal acts. We live in a Republican state and the timing is good for Vitter.
Crouere: Melancon hasn't a prayer. Vitter'll have a funding advantage over Melancon, and he'll "tie Obama around Melancon's neck", as well as Nancy Pelosi. Got the advantage of running against people who are not strong politically.
Clancy: Never underestimate the power of luck in Vitter's campaigns.
Grace: The GOP here has rallied around Vitter as well.

Keynote Speaker

Jeffrey Bostick: introducing Mac McClelland.

References to this article.

Mac discusses instances of irresponsible reporting concerning the BP oil disaster, and of having to "look for the traces of Katrina's destruction".

The former research editor of Mother Jones was taken on a tour of New Orleans and was surprised at how badly most of the flooded areas still worked.

Discussion of the dismantling of public education on all levels is also being swept under the rug.

All of these things run through the reporting of the BP oil disaster.

Mac was told by Mother Jones to get on Twitter, which she initially resisted. But now Twitter has been the source of so many of her news tips and of where she stayed while in Grand Isle, enabled her to get her stories.

She was here to get an article about the New Orleans public defenders' office, but she looked at a map when the oil spill first happened and followed a hunch.

Discussion of how ineffective the government has been during the crisis, and of how little the Coast Guard was of help. There was no oversight of the numbers; they all came from BP.

It's easier to smuggle Burmese refugees over the border than it is to get a boat off Grand Isle, LA, to investigate the oil spill. And what is appalling is how complicit the mainstream media has been in the information blackout on the oil spill.

Recent pictures of the spill are here. Where's the oil? It's still out there on the beaches and in the water.

Bloggers are the best bulwark against such ignorance. She could not have written her stories without the aid of locals, of tweeters and local blogs.

Rising Tide V: The Twitter Stream

Here is a streaming view of all the Tweets using the #RT5 hashtag for the convenience of those following at home or in the audience. Enjoy!

Conference Beginnings

Loki kicks it off with a Bloggers' Prayer after opening remarks by Kim Marshall and Alli deJong.

If you are using Twitter, use the #RT5 hashtag to mark your tweets as being from the Rising Tide Conference.

Public Safety panelists are introducing themselves.

Allen James: founded Safe Streets in 2006 to bring about public funding for indigent defense. Safe Streets tries to organize the community and inform them about public policies and the criminal justice system.

Jon Wool: discusses the Vera Institute

Ronal Serpas: discusses his background, what brought him into law enforcement, the challenges
of directing Gen X and Gen Y officers, and he emphasizes that good policing involves the entire community.

Susan Hutson: "My job is to be totally up in Ron's business." She is New Orleans' second police monitor. There's an "unprecedented wave of cooperation now" between the NOPD and the independent police monitor's office.

Scharf to panelists: What is your plan to deal with police misconduct?

Hutson: Hopes that Danziger was an anomaly, but if it does happen again, they want to be prepared for it.

Serpas: Concerning Danziger - The behavior of the Danziger officers was incomprehensible and an insult to the community - the other insult has been to those officers who did serve during Katrina and served well. Speaks of Hosli and Burrell's bravery and rescues. Less than 1 1/2 % of calls have anything to do with murder, robbery, rape, assault, burglary. Nearly ten times that number is spent on false alarms. And yet, the murder rate here is high. We must redirect how we do the policing.

Wool: Discusses intervention of the Department of Justice. Development of a pretrail incarceration system must be built. A "continuum of rational, just services" is key to maintaining public safety.

Both Wool and James comment on feeling as though Serpas has just taken a lot from their notes on law enforcement.

James: "We shouldn't expect radical change" despite the presence of the DOJ and the improvements of the police force. Each of the elements of the criminal justice system affects the other.

Serpas: Our disagreements (between the panelists) won't be major. Difference between 1994 and today: there were individual officers doing individual things then - today, there is a system-wide failure. "Our system has completely come off the tracks."

Scharf: How do you change a police culture?

Hutson: What will happen here will echo what happened in L.A.: there will be greater scrutiny on how the officers report crimes.

Serpas on police misconduct:
"You lie, you die" - People will be questioned in public hearings
A false report will result in termination.
Aiding in a false report will result in dire consequences.
If you fail to cooperate in an internal investigation, there will be consequences.

Look at how hiring practices can be changed to aid police culture.
Also look at how you promote officers.


Last Minute Updates

Rather than write new posts, we'll update this as needed, so check back for new information.

Don't forget to join us Friday at 7:30 at The Howlin' Wolf. There will be a cash bar and a menu from which to order if you come hungry or thirsty. We won't be offering conference check-in Friday night, so you won't be picking up name badges or swag, but we'll be happy to assist you in registering for Saturday's conference at Friday's meet and greet.

The price for Rising Tide, which includes morning breakfast beverages and pastries as well as lunch, is $25 but will be $30 Saturday morning at the door, space available.

Check out the complete program here. Register now here.

We'll see y'all there.


Rising Tide 5 Press Release: Program and Schedule

Rising Tide NOLA, Inc. will present its 5th annual Rising Tide Media Conference centered on the recovery and future of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast on Saturday, August 28, 2010, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., at The Howlin’ Wolf, 907 South Peters St., in New Orleans.


8/28/2010 - The Howlin’ Wolf

8:30am – Doors open: Conference check-in with coffee, pastries & juice sponsored by Levees.org

9:30 – Opening Remarks: Kim Marshall, Chair & Alli deJong

9:45 – Crime and Justice Panel: Tulane Criminologist Peter Scharf to serve as moderator. We are also pleased to announce that New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas has agreed to sit on the panel.

Panelists include:

Ronal Serpas was recently named Chief of the New Orleans Police Department. The native New Orleanian was most recently Chief of Police in Nashville, TN. The Times Picayune described his Nashville tenure like this: “The hallmarks of his tenure have been a reliance on statistical data in policing, a crackdown on gangs, an exponential boost in neighborhood watch groups, and wide-scale traffic enforcement.”

Jon Wool directs the Vera Institute of Justice’s New Orleans office, which is working in partnership with local criminal justice leaders and civic and community groups to improve the effectiveness and fairness of the system. Previously at Vera, Jon worked to improve indigent defense systems and on sentencing reform, was the Senior Counsel to the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, and was a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Division in Manhattan, after clerking for Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. He received a JD from Yale Law School and a BA from New York University.

Allen James is Executive Director of Safe Streets.

Susan Hutson is the independent police monitor for the City of New Orleans.

11:00 – Keynote Address: Mac McClelland

McClelland is Mother Jones’ human rights reporter, writer of The Rights Stuff, and the author of For Us Surrender is Out of the Question: A Story From Burma’s Never-Ending War. She has “been on the gulf Coast since the early days of the Gulf oil disaster and... documented every last drop of it.”

Mac has reported from locations that include Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, Micronesia, Burma, New Orleans, and Bhutan on subjects such as the hot young Bhutanese king, post-Katrina recovery efforts, South Pacific conservation initiatives, and the decline of American manufacturing. She has posed as a high-class freelance call girl and has embedded herself into dumpster-diving culture. More importantly, she is, according to The American Prospect, “a total bad-ass”.

11:45 – Break

12:00 – Environmental Panel: “Paradise Lost” moderated by Steve Picou, a lifelong environmental activist, musician and futurist with a systems-oriented perspective. He is an outreach agent with the LSU AgCenter in the New Orleans area where he helps people and organizations reduce their impact, save energy and find ways to develop sustainable lifestyles and businesses. A blogger since 1997, Steve currently expresses his thoughts on the environment, politics, music and social justice primarily via nolamotion.com and highlights eco-abuse at dyingoaks.posterous.com.

Panelists include:

Robert Verchick is the Gauthier – St. Martin Chair in Environmental Law at Loyola University New Orleans. Currently on leave, serving in a government position in Washington D.C., he is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School. An expert in environmental law and the developing field of disaster law, he has taught at several American law schools as well as at universities in China and Denmark. His newest book Facing Catastrophe: Environmental Action for a Post-Katrina World, has just been released by Harvard University Press.

Len Bahr, founding editor, frequent writer for LACoastPost and former director of the Governor’s Applied Coastal Science Program, Bahr has advised several Louisiana Governors’ administrations as well as the LA Dept. of Environmental Quality, Hazardous Waste Division. He has also served in various capacities as a researcher and professor at Louisiana State University and at the University of Maryland Chesapeake Biology Laboratory.Lunch – Provided by The Howlin’ Wolf

2:00 – Politics Panel: Moderated by Peter Athas, longtime New Orleanian and recovering lawyer who currently owns a small business in the French Quarter. He has been blogging as Adrastos at his eponymous blog since 2005 and is also a contributor to First Draft and Back Of Town. He is one of the founders of the Rising Tide Conference and is currently its Poohbah of programming. He lives Uptown with his beautiful and brilliant wife, Grace and their two cats, Oscar and Della Street.

Panelists include:

Jason Berry, a documentary filmmaker and IP media consultant from New Orleans. His first full length documentary was completed in 2006 with fellow filmmaker, Vince Morelli, titled, Left Behind: The Story of the the New Orleans Public Schools. Berry began his blog, American Zombie, in 2006 as anonymous source reporting on corruption issues within New Orleans City Hall. After breaking numerous corruption issues within New Orleans city government, Jason went public with his identity in 2009 after being threatened with a libel suit by a New Orleans' city official. He was the 2009 Rising Tide Ashley Award winner.

Clancy DuBos, the chairman and co-owner of Gambit Communications, Inc., and the political editor/columnist for Gambit weekly newspaper in New Orleans. He also is the on-air political commentator for WWL-TV (Eyewitness News Channel 4) in New Orleans, and a licensed attorney. Clancy and his wife Margo have owned Gambit since 1991, and he has been an attorney since 1993.

Jeff Crouere, a native of New Orleans, LA is the host of a Louisiana based program, Ringside Politics, which airs at 7:30 p.m. Fri. and 10:00 p.m. Sun. on WLAE-TV 32, a PBS station, and 7 till 11 a.m.weekdays on WGSO 990 AM in New Orleans and the Northshore.

Stephanie Grace, a political columnist with the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, focusing on local, state and national politics, and since Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Before moving to the op-ed page in 2003, she spent eight years as a political reporter for the paper.

Jacques Morial, “...a native of New Orleans with over a quarter century of inter-disciplinary professional experience in the areas of community organization, public policy analysis and development, capital finance, dispute resolution and strategic communications.” - Louisiana Justice Institute. Jacques is also occasionally seen playing himself on HBO’s Treme.

3:00 – Break

3:15 – Presentation: Why Can’t We Get Some Dam Safety in New Orleans?

Tim Ruppert , engineer and NOLA Blogger, exposes inequities between the Federal government’s design methods for dams and levees. For his Rising Tide 2 presentation, “In Levees We Trust” Tim explained why the so-called “100-year level of protection” is completely inadequate for a highly developed and populated area such as New Orleans. This year Tim expands upon that topic and asks why dams and levees alike are not designed as life safety systems.

3:45 - Presentation of 2010 Ashley Morris Memorial Award

4:00 – Down in the Treme: Maitri Erwin, Moderator, founder of Back of Town: Blogging Treme, author of Maitri’s VatulBlog & reporter for VizWorld.com, she is also Indian Languages advisor to Project Gutenberg, the first producer of free electronic books.

Panelists include:

Eric Overmyer is a playwright, television writer and producer. He is the the co-creator and Executive Producer of HBO’s hit series, Treme, and has written and produced numerous TV shows, including Law & Order, Homicide: Life on the Street, The Wire and New Amsterdam.

Becky Northcutt, one of two non-NOLA ringers blogging Treme at Back of Town, she sometimes writes about pop culture, the environment, and politics at First-Draft.com. She created the short-lived Got that New Package! blog about The Wire, and was lucky enough to share that obsession with Ashley Morris and Ray Shea, among others. She is a queer, a naturalist, a music lover, and a Texan, none of which she had any choice about.

Dave Walker has bee a TV columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune since September 2000. Before that, he worked as TV columnist and pop culture writer for the Arizona Republic, and before that he was a feature writer and columnist for the Phoenix alternative weekly New Times. Born in Kansas City, raised in Chicago. His American Rock 'n' Roll Tour, the first guide to pop music landmarks, was published by Thunder's Mouth Press in 1992.

Davis Rogan is a New Orleans musician who began his broadcast career on WTUL at the age of 10, and was a DJ at WWOZ for 13 years. He first came to prominence in the New Orleans music scene with his eight piece funk group All That, for which he was lead singer, band leader, principal songwriter, arranger and producer. Davis is also script consultant for Treme and makes periodic appearances on the show.

Lolis Eric Elie, a staff writer for HBO’s Treme, his television work includes include Faubourg Treme, the PBS documentary directed by Dawn Logsdon. He was also a columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune for 14 years. --Rising Tide 5

The one-day conference features speakers and panel discussions on the status and future of the culture, politics, criminal justice system, environment, and flood protection of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Past speakers have included actor and outspoken champion of New Orleans Harry Shearer, and authors Dave Zirin, John Barry, Christopher Cooper and Robert Block.

Rising Tide NOLA, Inc. is a non-profit organization formed by New Orleans bloggers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the federally-built levees. After the disaster, the internet became a vital connection among dispersed New Orleanians, former New Orleanians, and friends of the city and of the Gulf Coast region. A surge of new blogs erupted and, combined with those that were already online, a community of bloggers with a shared interest in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast developed. In the summer of 2006, to mark the anniversary of the flood, the bloggers of New Orleans organized the first Rising Tide Conference, taking their shared interest in technology, the arts, the internet and social media and turning advocacy for the city into action.

Conference registration is open at http://www.risingtidenola.com/. Registration is only $25 until Friday and includes lunch. Day of registration is $30. Please bring non-perishable food to contribute to Rising Tide's food drive benefiting Second Harvest Food Bank.

There will be pre-conference party hosted by the New Orleans bloggers on Friday evening August 27 from 7:30pm to 10:30pm, also at the Howlin’ Wolf. More information is available at the Rising Tide 5 Website: http://www.risingtidenola.com/ and at the Rising Tide blog: http://www.risingtideblog.blogspot.com/

The New Orleans bloggers will present the annual Ashley Award named for Ashley Morris—blogger and passionate advocate for New Orleans—who passed away in April, 2008. The Ashley Morris Award is given each year to an outstanding blogger writing about New Orleans and the challenges it faces.

Rising Tide’s featured artwork, available as a poster and t-shirt, is once again produced by the award-wining editorial cartoonist and artist Greg Peters of Suspect Device.

Tables for booksellers and vendors are available at the Rising Tide 5 Conference by calling Tim Ruppert at 504-975-3591 or by e-mailing tmruppert@yahoo.com. Rising Tide 5 is sponsored by The Canary Collective, Gambit Weekly, Levees.org and Cox Communications.

Those interested in sponsorship should e-mail info@risingtidenola.com. Information about registration is available by emailing registration@risingtidenola.com. The telephone number to call for information about Rising Tide 5 is 866-910-2055.Connect with Rising Tide on your preferred platform:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RisingTideNOLA
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RisingTide


Schedule for This Year's Conference

8:30 AM Conference opens. Light breakfast is served
9:30 AM Opening Remarks by Kim Marshall and Alli deJong
9:45 AM Public Safety Panel, moderated by Peter Scharf
11:00 AM Keynote address by Mother Jones human rights reporter Mac McClelland
11:45 AM Short break
12:00 PM “Paradise Lost” environmental panel moderated by Steve Picou
1:00 PM Lunch
2:00 PM Politics Panel hosted by Peter Athas
3:00 PM Short break
3:15 PM “Why Can’t We Get Some Dam Safety in New Orleans?” presentation by Tim Ruppert
3:45 PM Presentation of the 2010 Ashley Morris Memorial Award
4:00 PM “Down In the Treme”, moderated by Maitri Erwin


Where Are They Now?

As we come upon the fifth anniversary of the storm and the Federal Flood, all of us getting Rising Tide a-rising off the ground each year have done some looking back from time to time. It seems to be almost imperative to do some revisitation of the things that have gone wrong and right since the conference's earliest days, and we do that by doing our best to improve upon the programming and the general organization of the conference - with much assistance from you, the attendees in person and in spirit.

However, it's also a good thing to check out where past participants are in recent times and what they're up to...so I'll be kicking it off with the past keynote speakers' doings.

Far as I can tell, RT I keynoter Chris Cooper is now a vice-president of a PR firm in the DC area and his fellow keynoter and co-author of the book Disaster Robert Block is currently the space editor and NASA correspondent for the Orlando Sentinel.

RT II's main man Dave Zirin of edgeofsports.com is always up to something, which is a good thing. His most recent activities consist of hosting his Sirius XM radio talk show, on which players such as former Saint Scott Fujita are featured, and, in-between appearances on MSNBC's (Whoops, that's been corrected from CNBC. Thanks, Adrastos!) Morning Joe program and the Rachel Maddow Show, promoting his latest book, Bad Sports: How Owners Are Ruining the Games We Love. Anybody still grumbling over Tom Benson's gift to the Superdome faithful of ripping over 1000 seats out to accommodate a larger press area can certainly relate.

The author of the inspiration for the name of the conference, John Barry came along for Rising Tide III and shared his current assessments of flood protection in southeast Louisiana. He's still an active member of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana and the vice-president of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority - East, and is also a Distinguished Scholar at Tulane and Xavier Universities' Center for Bioenvironmental Research. Good to see he's still working for major improvements to southeast Louisiana's environment.

Harry Shearer rocked Rising Tide IV with his assessment of how well the word has gotten out about the failures on all levels surrounding the eventsof8/29/2005 and in the years after, and he's rocking again with his new documentary The Big Uneasy, to be shown locally at the Prytania Theater and at Canal Place on August 30th, Check here for show locations and times by you.

And keynoter-to-be Mac McClelland, judging by her Twitter stream, just paid a visit to one of the relief wells out in the Gulf. Reportedly:
My attempts to instigate exhibition fisticuffs btwn my BP & Transocean PR handlers were unsuccessful.
Well, we're glad she hasn't gotten the memo about the oil disaster being over. We're expecting great things from you, Mac. *wagging of finger* Only because she keeps delivering.

Any other dish on what past panelists are up to these days? Share those stories in the comments below, and be sure to join us on August 28th for more.


Mac McClelland: Links, Links, Links ...

Below is a large collection of links to RT5 keynote speaker Mac McClelland's many blog posts and articles about South Louisiana at Mother Jones. Hold down the control key, open up some tabs and devote some time to her peerless reporting of the BP oil disaster...

Also see her Burma reporting: Complete archive of Mac McClelland articles.


University of New Orleans: Broke but Unbroken

Heart Like Water: Surviving Katrina and Life in Its Disaster Zone

'It’s BP’s Oil'

Blog posts:

"All I Wanted Was to See Happy Faces"

Mainstream Media Helps BP Pretend There's No Oil

BP Cleanup Workers Gone Wild

Robbing New Orleans to Pay for BP's Spill

How Many Oil-Spill Victims Is BP Cutting Compensation To?

Did You Know Tar Balls Glow Orange Under UV Light?

Uniformed Cops on BP Payroll? Enter the ACLU

Depression, Abuse, Suicide: Fishermen's Wives Face Post-Spill Trauma

La. Police Doing BP's Dirty Work [Video]

Louisiana Tea Partiers Rally for More Drilling

More Dirty Details From My BP Mole

Inside Oil-Spill Pelican Rehab [Photos]

"We Don't Need This on Camera": BP's Crappy Cleanup Job

Official Government Stats = BP Spin

ICE Running Immigration Raids on Oil-Spill Workers

MoJo on PBS's Need to Know

My BP Mole Spills the Secrets of BP's Cleanup Ops

"Ignore Her": The BP Press Lockdown Continues

New Orleans Notebook: Disaster Tourism

New Orleans Notebook: Bug Blight

What Will Happen to Louisiana's Wetlands?

A Strike Against Oil Spill Lawsuits

New Orleans Notebook: Freezing Budgets, Overheating Pants

Can You Eat Oil-Slick Oysters?

Who's Trying to Kill New Orleans?

Take Me Back to New Orleans

Happy Anniversary, Katrina Victims! You Could Celebrate With Cash if You Weren't So Unscrupulous